PEP Newsletter

          Ideas For Your Parish            ________________________________________________

                                                                                       March, 2022

Influencing Others

            Sometimes we discover a book that we didn’t think would amount to much but surprises and delights.  Such was a recent offering by Zoe Chance entitled, Influence Is Your Superpower, The Science of Winning Hearts, Sparking Change, and Making Good Things Happen (Random House, 2022.).  What got my attention was a recent interview on National Public Radio in which the author mentioned the question,  “What would it take?” As Chance wrote in her book, “I call this the Magic Question, and it’s my favorite influence stratgy.” (p. 152).  It caught my attention because it tends to get the entire group involved in solving a problem or finding a solution. 

            A second suggestion Chance offers for influencing behavior is, “People tend to take the path of least resistance.  Ease is the single best predictor of behavior,” (p. 41)  In other words, make it easy, simple.  Amazon knows this well.  Select what you want, put it in the cart, click on send, off it goes.  So does Southwest Airlines.  Choose a destination and the dates, look for the best fit of price and time of day, and you are on your way. 

            Another method for influening others is framing.  Zoe Chance writes, “A well-chosen frame can determine what’s relevant, what’s important, or what’s good.  When you frame someone’s experience in a compelling way, you shape their expectations as well as their interpretation of events.” (p. 101)  She lists different kinds of frames.  One is monumental (this is a big deal).  For example, “We are out to break the record.”  Another frame is manageable (it’s not that hard).  “You can do it, lots of people your age have.”  A third frame touches into the mysterious (it sparks intrigue and curiosity).

 You tend to pick up a mystery book that catches your attention; it is well framed for adventure and action.  

Ask the Magic Question

            What issues face a parish these days?  Encouraging people to return in-person to the weekend liturgies?  Building a sense of community where all feel welcomed?  Connecting with young adults on the margins?  Enlisting more than a faithful few to participate in service projects?   First, choose the issue or challenge to address.  Invite a group of people, both those with experience in the area and those without.  Put the question before them – What would it take to solve this problem or meet this challenge?  Prime people’s imagination and creativity with a few starters.  As people pour out ideas, list all the contributions, choose the ones to work on.            

Make It Easy

            Suppose the topic is young adults who are thinking of leaving the Church.  What would make it easy for them to change direction?  Coming to a weekend liturgy might be the last place they would consider as an easy place to come.  Something more attractive might be a fun gathering of those their own age, such a pizza and beer night, or viewing and discussing a recent movie.  Target various subgroups, such as those with small children (free baby sitting included), working couples who can’t find time for each other, singles who would like to meet others with similar interests.  Perhaps a location away from the parish would make it easier for them to attend, or the parish setting might act as a common ground where all could gather.  Best to ask the young adults who are still active what suggestions they have to make it easy for others to attend these events.

Frame It Well

            How the event is framed can make all the difference.  What’s in it for them – what would make it inviting and interesting.  One frame might be, “Addressing climate change right in your home.”  Another could be, “Come as a stranger, leave with a friend.”  A third frame touches on the mysterious: “Discover next weekend what are three symbols people often miss at Mass.”  (Spoiler Alert: standing for the Gospel, adding a few drops of water to the wine, breaking the host before communion, among others.)